Parish council ‘disappointed’ as pond clear-up threatens wildlife and countryside

Woolmer Green Village Pond

Vegetation has been cut back at Woolmer Green Village Pond, threatening wildlife and countryside. - Credit: Archant

A parish council has been left ‘disappointed’ by a pond clear-up which they believe could spread an invasive plant species, threatening wildlife and the wider countryside.

A number of residents carried out work on Woolmer Green Village Pond, entering the water and cutting back vegetation.

But Woolmer Green Parish Council have been left ‘disappointed’ by this intervention, believing it puts wildlife at risk, including the rare and protected Great Crested Newt.

Great Crested Newt

The Great Crested Newt is believed to be found in Woolmer Green Village Pond. - Credit: Kentish Plumber/Flickr

They also believe the countryside could be threatened, with the work potentially spreading the invasive plant Crassula Helmsii from the pond to the surrounding area.

Banned from sale in the UK since April 2014, signs about the plant are present around the pond, warning that one tiny fragment will cause it to spread and that it is impossible to eradicate.

The pond sits on is common land, which means no public body has any legal right to it, but it is currently managed by Herts County Council Countryside Management Service on the request of the parish council.

Crassula Helmsii

The invasive Crassula Helmsii plant. - Credit: Benjamin Blondel/Wikimedia Commons

In a statement to this newspaper, a Woolmer Green Parish Council spokeswoman said: "We are disappointed that a small group has carried out extensive clearance of the area without any consultation or co-operation.

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“Presumably this is due to aesthetics rather than sound environmental practice.

The parish council takes advice from the Herts County Council Countryside Management Service, which helped produce a management plan for the area.

Woolmer Green Village Pond

The warning sign about Crassula Helmsii at Woomer Green Village Pond. - Credit: Archant

“There is an invasive non-native species, Crassula Helmsii, present in the pond which should be left undisturbed to avoid spreading it further into the pond and into the countryside. Also, eDNA analysis suggests Great Crested Newts, a protected species, could be present. 

“The council has regularly informed residents about these issues over the years and how it deals with them and has a dedicated page on its website and a clear sign by the pond.

The common land and pond are a small area, but village ponds are a valuable resource for wildlife and Woolmer Green is privileged to have one.

“Wild ponds require little human intervention but sadly most of the vegetation has now been cleared and goat willows cut down, all of which is important habitat.”